On-farm manure storage pits contain both toxic and asphyxiating gases such as hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, methane, and ammonia. Farmers and service personnel occasionally need to enter these pits to conduct repair and maintenance tasks. One intervention to reduce the toxic and asphyxiating gas exposure risk to farm workers when entering manure pits is manure pit ventilation. This article describes an online computational fluid dynamics-based design aid for evaluating the effectiveness of manure pit ventilation systems to reduce the concentrations of toxic and asphyxiating gases in the manure pits. This design aid, developed by a team of agricultural engineering and agricultural safety specialists at Pennsylvania State University, represents the culmination of more than a decade of research and technology development effort. The article includes a summary of the research efforts leading to the online design aid development and describes protocols for using the online design aid, including procedures for data input and for accessing design aid results. Design aid results include gas concentration decay and oxygen replenishment curves inside the manure pit and inside the barns above the manure pits, as well as animated motion pictures of individual gas concentration decay and oxygen replenishment in selected horizontal and vertical cut plots in the manure pits and barns. These results allow the user to assess (1) how long one needs to ventilate the pits to remove toxic and asphyxiating gases from the pit and barn, (2) from which portions of the barn and pit these gases are most and least readily evacuated, and (3) whether or not animals and personnel need to be removed from portions of the barn above the manure pit being ventilated.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health